Hi Everyone – I’m going to briefly touch on the end of our cross country trip, however the biggest focus of this post will be RV Mileage for our Ford 6.8L V-10 powered Class C/B+ RV.
While we were RV shopping we did a significant amount of research into RV fuel economy and the numbers we found were all over the board. This is for many reasons, but the most significant are:
- Ford makes more than one version of their Modular 6.8L V-10 engine. They make a 2-valve version (in most Class C RVs including ours) that makes 305hp and 420lb-ft of torque (it’s the torque that matters fyi), and a 3-valve version that makes 362hp and 457lb-ft of torque.
- RVs with the same engine can weigh significantly different amounts. Our RV is 32′ long and weighs 14,500 pounds as measured on a CAT scale, plus our tow car weighs around 3,000 pounds. I’ve seen shorter RVs that weigh 10,000 pounds with the same engine – and Class A RV that weigh over 20,000 pounds (these usually have the 3-valve).
- If you’re towing vs. if you’re not. What you’re towing also matters. Our Honda Fit weighs about 2,600 pounds plus whatever we put in it. A 4-door Jeep Wrangler (a popular tow rig) is closer to 4,000 pounds and has more rolling resistance due to fatter tires. If you’re not towing anything that will help your MPG of course.
- Where you live and where you drive your RV. If you’re in Colorado and spend a lot of time in the mountains you’ll get worse mileage than if you live and RV somewhere flat.
- Driving style and speed. This makes a huge difference, although many RVers will debate me on this point. The truth is when you drive something with the aerodynamics of a brick, every mile per hour over 55 you drive hurts your MPG, and if you’re driving over 65 it’s going to really suffer. There’s no escaping the effects of wind resistance in an RV!
All that said, the estimates we found ranged from 6.5mpg to around 10mpg, and if I only include verified estimates – as in people who filled the tank and calculated their mileage by hand – I haven’t seen anyone report over 9.5mpg.
Of course RV Dealers will never quote you less than 10mpg, or at least the RV dealers we talked to all said “figure you’ll get about 10mpg”. I’m not trying to throw them under the bus (well maybe a little), but there’s a huge difference between 6.5mpg and 10mpg!
Our RV Miles Per Gallon
On the last day of our trip we made one last fuel stop. Note that much of the last tank was spent driving on secondary roads through Pennsylvania, which is a very hilly state. Also note that about half of the driving was done at night when it was cool, and due to the secondary roads my average speed was around 45mph.
We stopped for our last fill up at a Pilot just before Albany in NY:
Start: Pilot Travel Center, Bentleyville, PA
Finish: Pilot Travel Center, Rotterdam, NY
Elevation Gain/Loss in ft: 17,553 / -18,138
Net Elevation Gain in ft: -585
Total Miles: 494
Total Gallons: 49.58
Notes: So close to 10mpg and just short! This is the best tank we got on our trip – and the best tank I’ve had since then as well. The amazing thing is the amount of climbing on this leg even though it was offset by downhills. Just more proof that slower speeds help MPG.
Our Net MPG for the Trip
I’m only including tracked mileage here, so the first leg and the last leg of our trip are excluded. This includes all of the ‘MPG’ boxes from the last 4 or 5 posts, so if you’re looking for MPG for any given section click on the previous post links at the bottom of this post.
Start: Pilot Travel Center, Lake Havasu City, AZ
Finish: Pilot Travel Center, Rotterdam, NY
Elevation Gain/Loss in ft: 58,332 | -59,121
Net Elevation Gain in ft: -789
Total Miles: 2,680
Total Gallons: 296.71
Notes: I achieved what I consider very respectable fuel economy for an RV by keeping my speed under 65 miles per hour for most of the drive. When there was little or no traffic I stayed at 60mph, and in heavy traffic I kept up with the ‘slow’ lane to be safe.
Our net cost ended up being around $1100 as we started with 3/4 of a tank and finished with nearly the same after driving the additional 150 miles from Rotterdam to Orange, Massachusetts. We benefitted from slightly cheaper fuel prices than we were expecting and from unusually cool late July temperatures.
Finishing the Journey – On to Massachusetts
This last section was written by Kathy (thanks Kat!) and picks up from our stop at Camp Bell just outside Corning, NY.
The next morning we packed up at Camp Bell with a sense of purpose, since this was the last day of our 3,200 mile cross-country journey. I don’t think Rich mentioned our purpose for visiting New England, however if you’ve been reading this site you know that we both grew up in Massachusetts and we both have lots of family in the area.
Our spirits were high as we followed i86 to i88, and ultimately i90 East. As Rich has mentioned, we prefer to avoid toll roads, but once you’re in Albany that’s the easiest way to quickly get to MA. It was a gorgeous, warm, summer day with beckoning blue skies.
We cranked our travel tunes, singing along and looking at the rolling hills of Upstate New York. What beautiful country, filled with small farms, fresh air, and open roads. It was extra nice because I didn’t have to work while riding. Most travel days during the trip I was working, which I’ll cover in another post.
A word about music
We both love music and yet spent the first 15 years of our relationship struggling to integrate our music libraries. We both like a wide variety of music with some overlap, and yet our collective library has been poorly organized. When listening to our ipod we’d click ‘next’ 5 to 10 times for every 1 song we’d listen to. It took the fun out of listening, and we almost gave up on music entirely.
When we bought our RV we decided we wanted good travel music, so we sorted through more than 4,800 songs and reduced our library to about 2,000. The key to a well-sorted library is deleting (yes DELETE) music you don’t like. Yes, I know this is somewhat sacrilegious, but it makes all the difference in the world.
Now we have joint play lists for Travel, Chill, Dance, Coffee Shop and so on, and personal playlists for music that only one or the other of us likes. We love listening to music again and rarely have to skip songs.
If you haven’t done this, we recommend you organize your music. It took us nearly 60 hours but we broke it into 1-2 hour chunks a few times a week in the evening, and actually had a lot of fun doing it. Whether you’re traveling, commuting, or hanging at home, it’s worth your time.
Back to the road
As we exited the New York Turnpike approaching Massachusetts we were hit with hefty tolls. For some reason New York uses axles as a multiplier, so while a 2 axle vehicle would pay $2.50, our 4 axles were charged at $10!
The i90 becomes the Mass. Turnpike which is also a toll road, but fortunately Massachusetts only dings you a little bit for extra axles.
From the Mass Pike we took Route 91 and headed north toward the little town of Orange, MA. It’s an easy road and a straight shot through the Pioneer Valley, which is known for its rolling hills and college towns like Northampton and Amherst. It was nice to see familiar names and places.
About 40 minutes later we got onto Route 2 heading east, which is a winding and narrow secondary highway. Unfortunately it’s the most direct route to Rich’s mom’s home and the alternative routes are even more narrow and windy. Welcome to western Mass!
We arrived in Orange at 5pm as planned. His mom lives on a pretty busy street and Rich wasn’t excited about backing into her somewhat narrow driveway with all that traffic. I stood in the street to block traffic if necessary, and Rich quickly backed in. It was surprisingly easy in our Class C, but not something I’d want to try in a big Class A!At any rate our RV was nicely tucked between his mom’s pink Victorian house and the tall shrubs that line her driveway. We even had a view of the pretty back yard, with plenty of privacy and room for all three slides, plus our bedroom was situated away from the street – very helpful!
Our plan was to stay in New England until just after the autumn leaves reached peak, and just before freezing temps creeped in.
Anyway, it was Saturday night and we greeted his mom with hugs and smiles, stopping to chat before unpacking. Shortly after, my daughter, who lived next door, came home and joined us and we all enjoyed a nice, home-cooked meal.
After dinner Rich hooked up our water and electric, using an outdoor faucet and 15-20 amp electrical outlets, then we settled into the RV for the night. It was great to be able to park next door to family, and still enjoy the privacy and comforts of home!
This concludes our 3000+ mile drive across country. We don’t plan on driving all the way across country like that again anytime soon. It’s too far, too fast, too expensive, and too energy draining. That isn’t to say we won’t end up back on the west coast, however we’ll space it out over a few months in the future.
We hope you enjoyed the log of our travels and found the MPG logs useful. Until next time, happy travels!